In a land of stark white sand, a little fall color really stands out. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico preserves part the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Gypsum sand is considered rare because gypsum is water soluble – it dissolves in water like sugar in iced tea. The 275-square miles of dunes are comprised of over 4.5 billion tons of gypsum sand. It is one of the many things that make White Sands a unique and special place. Photo by Jim Langford (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Bandelier National Monument’s human history extends back for over 10,000 years when nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the mesas and canyons of New Mexico. Between 1150 and 1550 CE, Ancestral Pueblo erected permanent settlements whose remains give us clues about their lives and culture. Built along the base of a cliff, the homes at Long House stood three to four stories high. The cliff face and remaining structures are decorated with hundreds of petroglyphs showing a variety of subjects. A visit here is like traveling back in time. Photo by Sally King, National Park Service.
Bobcats thrive at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico but are rarely seen. Mostly nocturnal, they use stealth and excellent night vision to hunt small mammals in darkness. Bobcats are usually tawny with darker spots and streaks on their body and legs, and light-colored undersides. They have short black tufts on their ears and a ruff of longer fur on their face. The kittens may look like ordinary house cats, but they quickly grow to twice the size of domestic cats. Photo by National Park Service.
Peek-a-boo! Can you spot the deer at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico? Best known for its fantastic cave system, the park also boasts above ground wonders like rocky canyons, a cactus-covered desert and wonderful wildlife. Take your time and see it all. Photo by Charlie Reed, National Park Service.
Thanks to a recent donation, Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico is now publicly accessible for the first time since it was established. Hikers, hunters, photographers, horseback riders and outdoor enthusiasts can now marvel at the sandstone cliffs of Canyon Largo, gorgeous cottonwood and ponderosa forests, and ancient pueblo ruins. With very little evidence of humans, the wilderness is an excellent place to find solitude and recreation. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.
Over 1.25 million years ago, a massive volcanic eruption created a 13-mile wide dimple in northern New Mexico. Hot springs, fumaroles and Redondo Peak, a 11,00-foot tall lava dome, reveal the caldera’s geologic past. Most of the area is now part of Valles Caldera National Preserve. Native Americans in the area used volcanic obsidian for arrowheads and spear points, starting a hunting tradition that lives on in the park today. Photo by Andrew Gordon (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week! National wildlife refuges are America’s best-kept secret – offering unparalleled opportunities to experience the great outdoors and providing vital habitat for thousands of species of animals and plants, both abundant and rare. With at least one national wildlife refuge in every state and territory (plus an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas), there’s a wildlife refuge nearby waiting to be explored. Photo Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico by Robert Dunn.
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a rolling landscape of badlands, which offers some of the most unusual scenery in New Mexico. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations out of sandstone and shale. Off the beaten path, it’s a great place to find solitude, explore the amazing desert landscape and marvel at the sunset. Photo by Theresa Rose Ditson (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A true oasis in the desert of southwest New Mexico, Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness Study Area is a lush thicket of cottonwood, willows and wildflowers. The area provides excellent birding with one of the highest bird diversities in the state. Spring and summer visitors also enjoy river recreation including tubing and fishing. Photo by Mike Howard, Bureau of Land Management.